The Historical Development of the Doctrine of Original Grace in Church History and Its Viability in the Context of Stone-Campbell Movement Soteriology
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The purpose of this project is to investigate the historical and theological origins of the doctrine of Original Grace and test its viability within Stone-Campbell soteriology. Chapter 1 seeks to provide an exhaustive literature review of those works of the proponents of Original Grace in which they discuss the doctrine in order to demonstrate the place of Original Grace within each tradition, and to make specific connections from the ideas of each writer to their respective theological, philosophical, and historical influences. Chapter 2 explores the exegetical basis for the doctrine of Original Grace. The bulk of attention is given to Romans 5:12-21, as the principal passage cited in discussions of the subject, and to the exegesis of Jack Cottrell, who displays the most current and developed version of the doctrine of Original Grace. I seek, primarily, to delve deeply into the text to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which the doctrine of Original Grace has been extracted from this text, explore the most detailed textual justification that has been provided for the doctrine, and ultimately determine what is at stake in the unique reading of the text that brings out Original Grace. Secondarily, I seek to assess whether the Original Grace interpretation of the passage is successful on its own terms. Chapter 3 aims to make a significant contribution to Stone-Campbell Movement theology, and also contribute to wider contemporary theological conversations from within the Stone-Campbell Movement. Specifically, I seek to discover how the doctrine of Original Grace fares in conversation with other accounts of grace and salvation, both as a potential contribution, and by running the gauntlet of critique within that conversation. The chapter makes this contribution by discussing the theological and practical implications of Original Grace, identifying and analyzing both the doctrine’s theological strengths and weaknesses, describing and evaluating the theological contribution of the doctrine of Original Grace in regard to the three most critical exegetical issues, and assessing the viability of Original Grace as part of the traditional and contemporary Stone-Campbell soteriological system.
PhD in Theology